Snacks

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I don't celebrate St. Patrick's Day quite as hard as I used to. But we have some friends who always have a big party and (luckily) we can also include the kids. So, instead of boozy brownies and shots, I'm now the kind of person who brings a veggie tray.

Yeah.

But, hey, I can make a veggie tray festive, right? The colors of Ireland's flag make for a great veggie display! And I can make veggies taste great with a little tzatziki dip to go with it. I based my recipe on this very authentice recipe from Inspired Taste, but was too lazy to squeeze out the cucumber juice. Instead, I just finely diced the peeled cucumber and it was just fine. Definitely try to let this set for a few hours in the fridge so the flavors set in.

Ireland_Flag_veggie_tray

Cucumber Dill & Feta (Tzatziki) Yogurt Dip
adapted from Inspired Taste

1 small cucumber
14-16 ounces containers Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoons finely minced garlic (1 large clove)
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh dill (or 1/2 tablespoon dry)
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar (can substitute white vinegar)
2 ounces feta cheese, finely crumbled
1 teaspoon salt plus more to taste

Peel and quarter cucumber lengthwise and use a spoon to scrap away seeds. Finely dice the cucumber and set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine yogurt, lemon juice, garlic, chopped dill, vinegar, cucumber and the feta cheese. Season with 3/4 teaspoon of salt then taste and adjust as necessary with more salt.

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Last week, we got some Middle Eastern takeout for dinner. Along with the falafel and spanakopita, we got an order of hummus. It was probably the most disappointing hummus I’d ever had because I’d just run out of my own, homemade hummus a few days earlier. Commercial hummus just can’t stand up to homemade.

citrus_hummus
Citrus and Roasted Garlic Hummus with Dill Pickle Lay's Potato Chips. Don't knock it until you try it.

If you’ve never made hummus before, let me tell you: it’s easy. But only if you have a food processor. Technically, you can make it in a good blender, but I nearly burned out the motor in my Osterizer because tahini (a paste made from ground sesame seeds) is thick. And I like my hummus to be thick, too. I don’t just use it as a dip; it’s also a great base for a sandwich since it’s loaded with protein.

But I definitely dip it. And as the pictures indicate, I have a favorite companion for it that’s not the standard pita triangles. Those are Dill Pickle Lay’s Potato Chips. I love, love, love Dill Pickle Lay’s. Much the way I love dipping french fries in dill pickle juice (which I did a lot when I was pregnant). And these chips taste fantastic with the citrus zing of this extra-lemony hummus. But not to worry; this hummus is still great for eating with baby carrots, cucumber slices and other vegetables as well as pita bread and crackers. The extra lemon gives it pep and tartness, but no weird sweetness.

Note: this recipe makes a lot of hummus. I had enough to take to a party and have a lot leftover for a week’s worth of sandwiches. Also, the additional lemon in it helped it stay good in the refrigerator for a lot longer than most hummus (even from the store). Two weeks after I made it, it was still just as delicious as the first day. Make the who batch and freeze part of it or just split the recipe in half. But only if you've got a decent-sized food processor.

Citrus & Roasted Garlic Hummus
yield: about 4 cups

2 cans (15 ounces each) chickpeas/garbanzo beans, drained (reserve liquid from one can)
1 head of garlic, roasted (see this post for instructions on roasting garlic)
the juice and zest of 1 large lemon/2 small lemons
4 tablespoons tahini
pinch or two of cumin
salt to taste

Pour the drained chickpeas into the bowl of your food processor. Squeeze out all the cloves of garlic into the bowl and add the lemon juice and zest, tahini and cumin. Pulse until smooth. Add 2 to 4 tablespoons of chickpea liquid to thin (as desired). Add salt in ½ teaspoon increments, pulse and add more as necessary.

 

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I have to admit that I’m not a big fan of fake meats. Fake bacon (facon), fake chicken (ficken), fake sausage (fauxsage), fake duck (MOCK DUCK, duh)… But my friend, Megan made these nifty little appetizers for a party last year and I was in love. One of the things I don’t really like about fauxsage is that it’s so much like real sausage. And I never liked real sausage. But in this recipe, the fauxsage is ground up, so it’s easier on my delicate senses.

There are a lot of different recipes and names for these cheesy little snacks. Megan calls them tofu stars, the critter version is often called sausage stars, but I felt like fauxsage blossoms was a better moniker. They’re perfect for parties or any occasion where you need to serve finger foods. They’re better warm, but still good at room temperature, too. And they're tasty! Mr. Eats and Mini Eats both enjoyed leftovers (which reheat in the microwave quite well).

Fauxsage Blossoms
servings: 36-48 blossoms

Ingredients
1 package (8 ounces) vegetarian sausage (fauxsage) patties

1 package cream cheese, softened
2 cups shredded cheddar or pepper jack cheese (8 ounces in block form)
1 envelope Hidden Valley Ranch Original salad dressing mix
1 package (48) wonton wrappers

Cook the fauxsage gently (don’t overcook) in the microwave or skillet. Chop the fauxsage and add to a medium bowl. Add the softened cream cheese, shredded cheese and Ranch dressing mix and stir to combine.

Using a teaspoon from your flatware, scoop a dollop of the mix and put it in the middle of a wonton wrapper. Fold the sides up to hold in the center and resemble a blossom or star and place in a slot in a muffin pan.

Bake at 350F for 10-12 minutes or until the tips of the blossom have browned.

Notes:

*Be sure not to overcook the fauxsage; if so, you will have tiny hard chunks in your blossoms and that is not good.

*If you don’t soften the cream cheese first, it will be nearly impossible to mix it with the rest of the ingredients.

*Using pepper jack cheese gives the blossoms a little more zip, but you may consider just cheddar or half cheddar and half pepper jack. Though I don’t like spicy food and the pepper jack version was still very tasty.

*I used both a mini muffin pan and a regular muffin pan and found the mini one to be easier to keep the blossoms more compact, but it’s fine to use whatever you have on hand.

*If your dollop is too large and/or you undercook the blossoms, they may stick to the muffin pan bottom.

*And do not—DO NOT—use egg roll wrappers; they are too thick. Megan and I use Nasoya wrappers found in the produce section at Publix.